Ishmael Beah

The story of a child soldier

Nicolas Dinardo

My name is Ishmael Beah I was born on November 23 1980 in Mogbwemo, Bonthe District, Sierra Leone. I had a normal life and lived with my family but in 1991 the sierra Leone civil war began and my life turned upside down. I was forced to flee my hometown due to the invasion of the Rebels. For a couple of months, I was living with a group of others boys, we wondered around and tried to survive. I was only 13 when the Rebels got a hold of me and I was force to become a child soldier. We where given guns and we where constantly being brainwash. They used to give us marijuana and powder called “brown-Brown” wich is a mix of cocaine and gunpowder. We use to go in the villages and kill innocent people. I can’t remember how many people I killed because I was constantly high and the brainwashing and the addictions took a hold of me. I even became a junior lieutenant for my skills of executing prisonners of war, I was even incharge of a small groupe of child soldiers. After 5 years of being a child soldiers, the UNICEF luckily got a hold of me and a couple of other child soldiers. They brought us to a shelter where I experience intense drug withdrawals symptoms. It was really hard for me. It’s in that shelter where I met Nurse Esther, she really helped me by placing me through a lot of counselling wich eventually helped me forget my violent self and healed my mental wounds. Eventually, I was chosen by the United Nation in New York City to talk about my experiences as a child soldier and the other problems plaguing my country.

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